Secession & The American Civil War
Debate Rounds (5)
First round is to accept and start the debate on a point of your choosing. 2,3, & 4 will be for rebuttals and 5 will be for closing arguments. If you do not wish to open with the first argument I will be happy to start in round 2.
I would prefer my opponent start the debate - I won't rebut him in round 2, and will use it as my 'opening statement'. I need more time to prepare a case, and will thus let him begin with his opening statements.
To support my main assertion, I will first point towards the constitution to which both countries were bound prior to the secession of the southern states. Starting with the preamble and moving into The Bill of Rights I will show the legal right of secession clearly existed for any state in the union during that era. Upon these conclusions I will further my initial claims by showing subsequent invasions by the armies of the United States were legally untenable acts of aggression.
To paraphrase the preamble...Law, Peace, Security, Prosperity and Freedom for us and our children are the purposes for which this great compact was created by the 13 original, independent, & sovereign colonies. In the simplest of terms, the seceding states felt the purposes set forth in the constitution were not being dutifully observed by all parties. To help illustrate this I assert commonly known facts;
(1) They were banned, by congress, from transporting there own legal property (slaves) into areas mutually owned by the entire country, a practice that was common in the early years of our republic. In southern eyes, this was a clear abrogation of established law. (2) Hangings, brutal beatings, war mongering and various others evil deeds were being regularly committed (by both sides) across Kansas and Missouri, disturbing the peace for all. (3) Slave insurrections were deliberately attempted amongst southerners by Northern agents, leaving serious doubts in every southerner's mind to their own security. (4) The very cornerstone of southern economic prosperity was being threatened with forced extermination with nary one serious discussion regarding reparation for such a trespass. Prosperity did not seem likely to the average southern business man.
Having failed to fulfill on the first four purposes, and as a result, failing to guarantee the blessings of the fifth, northerners were in no position to demand strict adherence to the constitution even if secession had been clearly labeled as sedition.
Which leads to my next point. No where in the entire Constitution of the USA is the word "secession" mentioned. It is not sanctioned, or condemned. The whole work was completely silent on the issue. The framers, however, in their seemingly endless foresight, even allowed for such a contingency within the perimeters of The Constitution itself. This was accomplished with the addition of the 9th & 10th amendments in The Bill of Rights. To put it simply, the 9A necessarily clarifies that a right (like secession) doesn't need to be expressly granted by The Constitution to exist. The 10A helps to clarify this concept even further by saying any power not specifically given to the federal government by The Constitution, nor specifically prohibited by it, are there by reserved to the states. From a legal perspective these amendments clearly reserved the right of any state to secede from a union. Particularly with a solid (sometimes unanimous) ordinance of approval from the inhabitants of the participating states.
Having shown the obvious right of secession one can only conclude any actions taken by the US government on Confederate soil and against it's wishes could only be qualified as illegal and unprovoked. The CSA immediately sent peace emissaries to treat with the United States for the "peaceful and equitable" conclusion of financial matters between the two nations as well to negotiate mutually beneficial commerce agreements. The emissaries were in most cases rejected, and in others, intentionally deceived. Every federal installment on Southern property was given due notice and permitted to peacefully withdrawal with honors. In the most famous case of Fort Sumter, federal authorities were given four months of notice and repeated demands for evacuation and were fired on only after months of duplicitous dealings with the Lincoln administration and in the face of an imminent threat to one of The Confederacy's most significant harbors. I ask, if the United States occupied a base within the natural boundaries of France and against her wishes, would it be us or them who started a war when France fired on our forces?
The Civil War, a historical narrative; Shelby Foote
Battle Cry of Freedom; James McPherson
The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government; Jefferson Davis
I would like to thank my opponent for this debate, which I hope can show people that there is room for a solid, respectful debate on this topic.
To begin, I want to note that America is not, and has never been, a stranger to secession, but let's not kid ourselves here - we had no legally enshrined right to secede from England. We were labeled as traitors - but, who were the traitors in the war? Was it the United States, for wanting freedom from tyranny, or the British Empire, for violating the key principles of freedom? Americans had no desire at first to secede; like good British citizens, we aimed to peacefully address our differences. All we wanted was to be treated like those on the British Isles - given proper representation in Parliament, fairer taxes, and not having soldiers boarded in houses. We waited decades upon decades upon decades for those issues to be resolved, and it wasn't until England gave us complete tyranny that we even considered seceding. Even still, we tried peaceful alternatives such as the Olive Branch Petition, but finally - when it became clear the Empire had no respect for our rights - we said 'enough' and created the Declaration of Independence.
In the Declaration of Independence, we gave clear reasoning for our treason, including a scathing indictment of the treatment of the colonies by the Crown. The King had, according to Thomas Jefferson:
*Refused to assent to (approve) laws
*Forbidden governors to pass laws without his approval
*Refused to pass laws for 'large groups of people' unless they give up the right to representatives
*Called legislatures into poor locations distant from Public Record offices
*Dissolved legislatures entirely and refused to allow new elections
*Refused to allow states to naturalize foreigners and prevented them from encouraging migration
*Refused to assent to creating courts
*Made judges follow his will by controlling their salary and term
*Created unneeded offices and officers to harass people
*Created a standing army in peace time and taken control of it from the people
*Subjected Americans to foreign laws
*Quartered troops among the people
*Protecting these troops from criminal prosecution
*Cut off trade and imposed taxes
*Deprived the citizens of trial by jury
*Transported Americans overseas to face trial in England, away from their peers
*Abolished English law in Quebec
*Taken away charters, abolished laws, and altered government
*Suspending legislatures and directly controlling state laws
*Waged war against the states
*Hired mercenaries to attack Americans
*Forcibly taken Americans into naval servitude
*Sought to make Indians attack Americans
As you can see, that's a pretty long list, and when read, it justifies the secession entirely. No loyalty is owed to a tyrannical government, and by not only enacting these laws but refusing to allow petition of them, the Empire sealed its fate.
By this, the founders clearly viewed secession as a problem to be solved by the people, not the government. In fact, the Articles of Confederation, the predecessor to the Constitution, stated that "the Union shall be perpetual". While the Constitution, silent on the issue, clearly replaced the ineffective Articles, it is imprudent to ignore early precedent on the issue. Furher, court rulings have ruled it is illegal, and rebellions such as the Whiskey Rebellion were halted. Forbes writer Michael Peck argues that secession "The Founding Fathers revolted because they did not want to be ruled by a king and country on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The American Civil War was fought over states’ rights; even if that was the right to enslave other human beings, it could be at least be said that the issue behind secession was significant". In contrast to the utter tyranny leveled by Great Britain, the issues between the states were minor. Secession is clearly an individual, not governmental, right, and only to be used in the direst of circumstances, which would be tyranny. Despite arguments the South was being subjected to such, the key difference in the Civil War is that all national laws were passed by the representatives of the people. In other words, all laws were passed with consent of the governed. The South may not have liked some laws, but they were clearly in the minority on those issues.
Despite these facts, the South made very clear prior to an election that they intended to secede if Abraham Lincoln won the 1960 election, which he did. In other words, they attempted to blackmail the people of the United States to progress a political agenda. Does that sound like a group of people who are oppressed? Most of the South Carolina secession document makes it very clear the reason they seceded is that they felt slavery was threatened. In other words, they seceded because they disliked the fact that slavery was dying and more and more people were saying that representative government should include all people of all colors.
The right to secede clearly does not apply to the South, because South Carolina was the one with tyranny. In fact, the Confederate Constitution was essentially a "word-for-word duplicate" of the American Constitution, meaning the South had no issue with northern laws with the exception of slavery. There was no true issue with tyrannical government (except the slave system in the South), meaning the South failed to clear the necessary burden of 'utter tyranny' to justify secession.
Finally, the South had no justification in attacking the North's military instillation at Fort Sumter. The North had no obligation to leave, because it was their land. By attacking the North first, the South did one of two things:
A) If secession was legal, attacked a sovereign power, which is an act of war by any definition
B) If secession was illegal, waged rebellion against government, which is treason
Either way, there is no justification for it. The South could have had a case if the North attacked first from the fort, but the North did not.
To conclude: secession is clearly a radical solution to any problem. As Jefferson so eloquently put, "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security". In other words, secession is a right of the people, not government. It is only justifiable when there is long-standing tyranny, and all possible efforts have been made to end the tyranny peacefully. The South failed to justify secession properly - their opposition was rooted not in tyranny, but opposition to the will of the people who passed laws and elected a President the South didn't like. The Sotuh attacked a sovereign nation, which is an act of war. Thus, secession was illegal and the Civil War was justified.
1. Declaration of Independence
2. Article XII, The Articles of Confederation
3. Texas v. White
7. Constitution of the Confederate States
1) The American Revolution was a more justified war as it tried to peacefully resolve its differences and upon the breaking of peace, justified its parting with a list of candid causes of the split.
Since the extent to which peace was attempted is a subjective idea, I will leave it to the reader to decide if southern efforts were honestly and honorably attempted. Starting with the Three Fifths Compromise that helped enable the birth of our union, a number of compromises were established with the idea of "peace" being the focal point of each.
The Missouri Compromise 1820
The 2nd Missouri Compromise 1821
The Compromise Tariff of 1833
The Compromise of 1850
The Kansas-Nebraska Act 1854
The Crittenden Compromise 1860 (unsuccessful)
After all of these combined attempts, the conditions set fourth in the Preamble of the Constitution were still unattainable in the South. Since we have yet to hear from my opponent on how the failure to meet those conditions is anything less than paramount, I am content to rest this case pending a rebuttal.
Which leads to the next argument; The South lacked compelling reasons for their separation. The trouble with this argument is the assumption that revolution and secession are identical terms. Our founding fathers were under no assumption whatsoever that their actions were legal. They believed (righteously) that while their actions were illegal under terms of British law, they were still required by the more important natural right of man to revolt. As such they submitted "facts to a candid world" to show why a peace loving, law abiding people, would revolt against the established authority. Secession, a right to be exercised as one sees fit, requires no such declaration. It doesn't even require a legitimate reason (of which there were many) provided the majority of a sovereign state feels it should be used.
2) secession/revolution is a right only to be enacted by the people and not the government.
I agree with this statement unless you are somehow insinuating that a duly elected representation of the people can't facilitate this process. I have shown how, in every case of southern secession, each sovereign state acquiesced only AFTER an ordinance of secession was passed (again, in some cases unanimously) by the majority of its people. This is an argument you have yet to address, and as such, this point only seems to support The South's secession during The Civil War.
3) The South used the threat of secession as blackmail
For blackmail to be a crime people have to be threatened with the loss of something that is legally theirs. The sovereignty of the southern people is not something the north ever owned or could ever lay legal claim to, thus they can't be blackmailed with the OPEN avocation that the south may decide to exercise a right it has.
4) All laws were passed by legal representatives of the several states and the South was simply the less powerful majority on the issue.
Regrettably a law being passed by a duly represented act of congress does not mean it is legal in accordance with our constitution. One of the reasons our system of government and its checks and balances exists is to prevent a simple majority from subjugating the rights of a lawful minority. That's what a republic is. In this specific example, while the majority of the country felt limiting the practice of slavery in the territories was legal and right, the Supreme Court (Scott Vs Sanford) clearly stated that this practice was unconstitutional.
5) "they [The South] seceded because they disliked the fact that slavery was dying and more and more people were saying that representative government should include all people of all colors. "........"There was no true issue with tyrannical government (except the slave system in the South), meaning the South failed to clear the necessary burden of 'utter tyranny' to justify secession"
I have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that under established law at that time, slavery was perfectly legal and its banning from the territories held by the United States was totally illegal. Slavery being protected by the law was an issue for The North, the attempted abrogation of that law was what lead to the resulting separation. And for clarity's sake, history will show that scarcely any northerner supported, much less went to war over, the right of freed slaves to vote. Let us also not forget that four Confederate States did not even secede until AFTER Lincoln called forth an army to invade the already parted states. That makes your conclusion very difficult to prove.
6) "Perpetual" Union and the Aticles of the Confederation.
The argument is pretty basic. The "Perpetual" Union that was The Articles of the Confederation LEGALLY ENDED. So much for perpetual! Let us also not forget that the word "perpetual" was specifically removed from the document which created our new union.
7) Texas vs White
This case was after the Civil War and was not a ruling on secession itself. As such it has no bearings on the actions of the Confederacy during the Civil War and couldn't even be used as precedent in a case that did review secession specifically. Not to mention one of the judges (Chase) was a cabinet member of the Lincoln administration during the war; conflict of interest maybe?
8) "Finally, the South had no justification in attacking the North's military instillation at Fort Sumter. The North had no obligation to leave, because it was their land. By attacking the North first, the South did one of two things:
A) If secession was legal, attacked a sovereign power, which is an act of war by any definition
B) If secession was illegal, waged rebellion against government, which is treason.
Unfortunately these conclusions ignore my own assertions regarding this very issue. This being the case I have only to restate and further clarify my claims. Pursuant to my numerous arguments above, I hold secession was completely legal and thus Fort Sumter could not possibly be considered Federal property. Geographically speaking, it is inconceivable to assume any party could hold Fort Sumter without the consent of the parties in control of Charleston. Without the support of the harbor it protects, the position is not only untenable, it is completely worthless to the US government. When the land was deeded to the United States by the authorities of South Carolina is was done so under a very specific stipulation. This was that its use would always be for the defense of the State of SC AND the US. This was a legal contract signed by both parties. How could that base be used for the defense of South Carolina when it is being manned by foreign and hostile forces with guns trained on Charleston Harbor? Again, I submit that emissaries were sent from The CSA to The USA to equitably settle matters of finance between the two nations. Again, I clarify these emissaries were either outright refused, or specifically mislead in regards to the Sumter situation. And finally I remind us that even after all of those facts, The South waited until an imminent threat to one of their most important harbors was apparent and unavoidable, and only then did they give battle.
With 253 characters left to go, I send it back to you con!
To start, I will go ahead and address arguments made by you in your opening arguments - I did not rebut because I assumed that the opening statement should not include rebuttals.
To begin, my opponent asserts four main historical facts relating to the plight of the South. I have every sympathy for the South - I am a southerner myself. These four issues certainly did exist, but each were not as bad as it might seem:
*Northern states, which refused to recognize slavery, were under no obligation to recognize slaves. Under the 10th amendment, all powers not vested in the federal government are left to the states, or the people. Recognizing property is not a right that is mentioned in the Constitution, so it therefore falls to the states.
*As you mention, this was caused by both sides; Therefore, the blame here is split evenly.
*Most southerners (3/4s) did not own slaves, so their security was not threatened; those that did were certainly prey to insurrections, but that is going to happen. Why? Because, out of the 9 million southerners, only 5.5 million were white. In other words, around 3.5 million southerners were black or another race. That's a lot of people to have control over, and the fact of the matter is the human spirit is inclined towards freedom.
*As I explained about, most southerners did not own slaves. Reasonable reparation was actually considered, but the onset of the Civil War kind of ended that idea.
With that said, those are not major issues... At all. The Founding Fathers made it clear that secession is an option only when there is tyranny, and the South was not under tyrannical Northern rule - if anything, they were the tyrants.
I agree, secession is not mentioned in the Constitution. I do not agree a 'right to secede' exists in the Constitution; the founders laid out the people's right to secede in the Declaration of Independence, and had no need to repeat it in another document. I also disagree that the 9th amendment addresses any governmental right; the purpose of that amendment was to note that there are many more rights not listed in the Constitution, and those cannot be attacked by government.
Finally, to your last argument, the North was under no obligation to leave its forts and military installations. The land was theirs, and the fort cost a great deal of money from US taxpayers. It would be wrong to say the South had a right to steal what amounts to installations bought and paid for by residents of the United States.. The South got angry that the North refused to leave and attacked (clearly showing they had no intention of peace in the first place), which unfortunately sparked a war.
As to the ones in your most recent post, I have addressed them in order of statement:
I agree with you 100% when you say that the Founding Fathers' actions were illegal, and they know so and did it anyway to preserve their rights. Like many people in that era, the Founding Fathers believed the law of man does not trump the natural law that is granted to all citizens, and they fought to preserve the higher law - natural law. On the other hand, I do not think the Declaration of Independence was an act of revolution. It served an identical purpose to the South's secession - to try and solve issues. Do you think that America wanted to go to war with Britain? Of course not. They hoped that there would be no war, but they were prepared to fight if there was. The same could be said with the south, except that the South failed to meet the criteria to secede and instigated the conflict.
I agree that representatives can facilitate the process, but there was no justification to secede (ie. no tyranny). However, I reject the idea that a government can truly be considered representative when the options of a large number of citizens (in this case, the slaves) are completely ignored.
The South's did indeed use blackmail. Their threat to secede obviously threatened the removal of strategic points belonging to the US (like Fort Sumter), military installations, trade agreements/revenue, etc., all of which belonged to the whole of the country.
We have a Supreme Court for a reason, to determine the legality of laws. The South had every right to petition the court if a law was harming them, rather than flee when they realized they were on the wrong end of history in regards to slavery.
I do not see any proof slavery was supposed to be legal in US territories.
I noted such myself; however, it is worth nothing the wording was there.
I cede the Texas v. White bit.
The US government obviously saw some use for it, as they refused to leave and continued stocking it, but having a lack of use for something is not justification for stealing it. If you have something you can't use and I want, can I come and steal it from you at gunpoint? Of course not. Also, could you provide solid proof behind your asserting of land deed restrictions?
Sorry if this is a bit short; I had to save a lot of space to cover both sections. Back to you!
1. The Constitution
1)You say the North refused to recognize slavery but this is obviously an erroneous view as slavery was legal in four northern states fighting against the confederacy. (Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland & Delaware) The north clearly recognized the right to own a slave and was obviously not fighting to take that right away. 2) I missed something regarding the evenly split blame, could you elaborate? 3) A basic understanding of economics will leave no doubt that the abolition of slavery would be disastrous to every southerner. Their entire economy was wholly dependent on the application of slave labor. When rich people aren't buying and investing in things it is bad for ALL business, not just the slave owners'. 4) Arguing in defense of inciting armed rebellion in southern states by indicating it was likely to occur anyway is a straw man argument at best. If this view has any weight then you could justify firing on Fort Sumter simply by saying war was likely to occur regardless. 5) If reasonable reparation was considered I challenge my opponent to produce one instance of a congressional discussion specifically considering the idea of reparations to the South before the Civil War.
6) "With that said, those are not major issues... At all. The Founding Fathers made it clear that secession is an option only when there is tyranny, and the South was not under tyrannical Northern rule - if anything, they were the tyrants."
The only clarity our founding fathers provided in regards to secession was to leave it as an unnamed right to be retained by the people. Again, secession is not revolution, the terms are not interchangeable. Revolution is universally illegal, secession is universally legal. The north did not recognize secession as a right specifically because to do so would mean they would have to accept disunion, where by calling it a rebellion allows for the contingency of war. And again, if The South were tyrants by nature of owning slaves, then as I have already shown, The North were also tyrants.
7) "I do not agree a 'right to secede' exists in the Constitution; the founders laid out the people's right to secede in the Declaration of Independence, and had no need to repeat it in another document."
I will first point out that nothing in the Declaration of Independence is considered law and as such, it only espouses american ideals, it does not attempt to define any legal right, Secession, revolution, or otherwise. I will then rest my case on my cited differences between secession and revolution (above).
8) "The purpose of that amendment [the 9th] was to note that there are many more rights not listed in the Constitution, and those cannot be attacked by government.
Right, like the right of secession, how again does this help prove secession was illegal?
9) "The North was under no obligation to leave its forts and military installations....It would be wrong to say the South had a right to steal what amounts to installations bought and paid for by residents of the United States..
I have addressed this point twice now in observing that Confederate emissaries were sent to treat on ALL financial matters resulting from their separation. These emissaries were categorically rejected because to do otherwise would effectively mean the US was recognizing the CSA as a country with rights to deal on such matters, rather than a rebellion, to which governments afford no such luxury. What this means is that United States policy precluded ANY possibility of allowing The South to pay for these forts and installations regardless of how many peaceful attempt were made at it.
10) "The South got angry that the North refused to leave and attacked (clearly showing they had no intention of peace in the first place), which unfortunately sparked a war."
In a simple sort of way this is true. The South, like any country, got angry that a foreign, armed, and hostile force refused to leave its sovereign territory and fired upon it as a result. If China parked a nuclear sub in the Chesapeake Bay, refused to leave, and attempted reinforcement by armed force, would the US be guilty of starting a war when we blew it up? Lets also consider that Lincoln's own Secretary of State was advising the SC authorities that Sumter would be peacefully evacuated right up until a day before the resupply ships were seen off its shore. Whether or not not Seward was being duplicitous or insubordinate is debatable, but its also completely irrelevant to the confederates who then had every reason to believe they were being intentionally deceived.
11) "I agree with you 100%.........I do not think the Declaration of Independence was an act of revolution..........failed to meet criteria to secede."
This whole paragraph seem to be trying to prove similarities between secession and revolution which I will agree are unmistakable. However, similar characteristics don't prove something is the same. Again, I will rest this case on the arguments I've yet to hear a reply to.
12) "I agree that representatives can facilitate the process, but there was no justification to secede (ie. no tyranny).
I have demonstrated ample justification (compromise after compromise with ultimately illegal processes and northern failure to meet conditions set fourth in our constitution) I have also proven secession is a right, thus tyranny (nor any other justification) is required for its application.
13) I reject the idea that a government can truly be considered representative when the options of a large number of citizens (in this case, the slaves) are completely ignored.
I have proven slavery was legal and thus, slaves and freed men were not recognized as citizens by either party in accordance with our constitution. If your argument stands, you will have to admit the illegitimacy of everything the United States did prior to the 13th amendment.
14) "The South's did indeed use blackmail. Their threat to secede obviously threatened the removal of strategic points belonging to the US (like Fort Sumter), military installations, trade agreements/revenue, etc., all of which belonged to the whole of the country."
Once The South seceded, the forts and military installations are no longer strategically important to the United States (unless you want to invade The South). And trade routes residing in say, Mississippi and upon her rivers, were no more the rightful property of the US government before secession than they were after it.
15) "I do not see any proof slavery was supposed to be legal in the territories"
Look no further than to the creation of any slave state that did not exist as one of the original 13 colonies. Those states adopted the institution of slavery because Americans moved into those territories while freely carrying slave property along with them. I would also point out that making the practice illegal required the creation of laws, thus naturally assuming its legality at any time prior.
16) "The US government obviously saw some use for it [Fort Sumter], as they refused to leave and continued stocking it"
You're right about that, the very specific use Lincoln saw for the fort was to maneuver Davis into firing the first shots of The Civil War. All three of my originally cited sources agree on this issue. Hardly a noble purpose.
17) "Could you provide solid proof behind your asserting of land deed restrictions?"
It's in "The Rise and Fall of The Confederate Government" but for the life of me I can't find my copy to give you the pages. I did locate a web page that covers the issue and includes the actual resolution though, it's towards the bottom of the page.
Thanks again con, back to you!
1) I'm sorry for any confusion with that - by 'North' I meant the North, excluding border states (who, in all honesty, were basically forced to stay in the union). However, my main point stands - under the 10th amendment, the states were under no obligation to recognize slavery. Forcing them to allow it would be a violation of the 10th amendment.
2) My 'evenly split' comment was basically agreeing with the following statement you made:
Hangings, brutal beatings, war mongering and various others evil deeds were being regularly committed (by both sides) across Kansas and Missouri, disturbing the peace for all.
You noted that 'both sides' were causing this; my response is that, if both sides caused it, it is not the fault of the North and thus cannot be a valid argument against the North.
3) It would have caused some damage, yes, but most southerners didn't own slaves. There is no reason freed slaves couldn't be employed to work for pay. Additionally, there are many other alternatives that could have been viable - for example, many anti-slavery Republicans believed that slaveholders should be entitled to just compensation.
4) I'm not saying such rebellions were legal, but when you enslave a large percentage of your population, it is very likely that some of them will fight back.
5) According to Wikipedia, cited from the book Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President:
"In an effort to keep border states in the Union, President Lincoln as early as 1861 designed gradual compensated emancipation programs paid for by government bonds. Lincoln desired Delaware,Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri to 'adopt a system of gradual emancipation which should work the extinction of slavery in twenty years.' On March 26, 1862 Lincoln met with Senator Charles Sumner and recommended that a special joint session of Congress be conveyed to discuss giving financial aid to any border states who initiated a gradual emancipation plan. In April 1862, the joint session of Congress met, however, the border states were not interested and did not make any response to Lincoln or any Congressional emancipation proposal.Lincoln advocated compensated emancipation during the 1865 River Queen steamer conference."
If Lincoln, a chief advocate against slavery, promoted such ideas, it is not too hard to assume many other moderate Republicans would support it. Of course, this only applied to the slave states that stayed loyal to the union, and when Lincoln was killed and the radical Republicans took power it ultimately failed.
6) I don't understand your logic here. Secession is not universally legal, and revolution is not universally illegal (the Constitutions of New Hampshire, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Texas protect it, for example). The North (excluding border states) had already long ended slavery. The issue here isn't legality, however, it is whether secession was warranted.
7) The Declaration of Independence is absolutely law, in the sense it codified secession from Britain and the reasons for doing so. As such, it is effective for establishing precedence in the matter.
8) There is no constitutionally protected right of secession. Secession belongs to the people, and is only warranted when utter tyranny is laid out.
9) The North did not recognize those delegates because they did not recognize the Confederacy, as you note. Why would the government suddenly change their policy on that? The answer - they wouldn't.
10) The difference between China parking a sub in the Chesapeake Bay and the US having a fort in Charleston is that China is not and never has been a part of the United States, and thus they cannot do that unless they agree to let China do that. South Carolina, on the other hand, was a US state, and had allowed the US to use that property for basically as long as they wanted. The North had done nothing to warrant that attack, because the buildings themselves were theirs and they also controlled the land.
11) Not sure what your issue here is. I've never argued they are the same.
12) I do not believe you have. I have established secession is indeed a right, but that can only be invoked when there is tyranny - which did not exist in the South, except with what the south itself was doing.
13) It doesn't mean all actions prior to that were illegal. However, what it does mean is that government prior to it in the slave states was not truly representative.
14) If forts in foreign countries have no real value, please explain why the US military currently has hundreds of military bases in foreign countries.
15) That is a rather weak argument to me. In a lawless land, of course everything is going to be legal until you make it illegal. Does the existence of, say, murder laws cause you to naturally assume murder used to be legal? Does the existence of rape laws make you assume rape used to be legal? Of course not.
Alright, back to you for you closing argument. I look forward to seeing the conclusion of this excellent debate.
The basic idea Con has attempted to forward is that Secession is a legal right that is only granted by The Declaration of Independence. That it sets forth qualifications for secession that The Confederacy failed to meet. And that subsequently their secession was illegal, thus justifying the invasion of The South, particularly after firing on Fort Sumter.
I have shown that our Declaration is a document justifying the American colonies' illegal revolution against the British empire, that it covers nothing in regards to legal secession and have demonstrated the difference in the two terms. I have shown this document does not represent American law, since for this to be possible, it would have to be voted on by a congress that did not exist when the colonies declared themselves independent. Moreover, there are no qualifications set forth to imply legality, only a list of grievances that could not be replicated in any another time in our country's existence. I have also shown that as a right, secession need no further justification then the will of the majority of a sovereign people to exercise it. I have demonstrated compromises that were made over slavery from the very birth of our country and enumerated a number of injustices against southerners. Having only put forth the abstract belief that the declaration establishes legal precedence for secession and necessarily lacking any evidence to substantiate such a profound idea, my opponent has failed to prove to the reader how The Declaration establishes any law, particularly one qualifying secession as it pertains to The South.
I have shown my opponents main arguments to be nothing more than an abstract speculation by asserting simple truths to contradict them. This done, my only remaining BOP is to show that my opponent has also failed to offer any supporting facts in his rebuttals to my own original assertions.
I demonstrated, via the preamble to this country's entire legal make-up, that the conditions for which it was created were not being met. In some cases (peace & prosperity) my opponent agrees the failure existed but argues the degree was not sufficient. I have clearly demonstrated there is no legal force that quantifies "the degree to which evils are sufferable" and have forwarded the idea that only the sufferers are fit to decide what constitutes "a long train of abuses and usurpations". With other conditions (law) my opponent unabashedly asserts there was no legal obligation to observe the institution of slavery AND that a right to transfer that property to mutually owned territories did not exist. One need only look to the 3/5's compromise (among many others), the Fugitive Slave Act & Sanford Vs Scott to directly contradict this view. With yet another condition (security) my opponent attempts to prove it never existed with what is obviously circular logic. A potential for rebellion to rise (literally anywhere) does not excuse northern attempt to incite armed rebellion against peaceful, law abiding southerners. By this logic, inciting armed rebellion could always be justified by simply showing how a rebellion may possibly occur otherwise.
I also demonstrated how our founding fathers covered secession in our constitution under the 9th and 10th amendments. Aside from asserting his belief that only our declaration covers this law, (an idea I have demonstrated to be impossible) Con has forwarded only one other (contradictory) argument to counter this view. This is that we are to believe secession (a right we agree is not mentioned in the constitution) wasn't included as one of the rights expressed by these amendments (even though the 10th specifically notes any right not mentioned is retained by the states) and that even if it were, it could not have been properly exercised by the people due to lack of proper representation. I have pointed out this logic fails to address that blacks (as well as ALL women for that matter) were disenfranchised throughout the entire country and this view would necessarily require the condemnation of everything the US did (including creating itself) before allowing for full representation of the people.
Since Con's arguments have failed to prove, or even suggest the illegality of southern secession & since he has offered historically untenable rebuttals to my main own assertions; we have only to conclude that Confederate secession was completely sanctioned by The United States Constitution. Having made this observation we will further cement that conclusion with a brief review of the facts surrounding the opening of hostilities. Using the specific example of Fort Sumter I have demonstrated the desire of The Confederacy to peacefully resolve matters pertaining to its evacuation over four months of patient negotiations. In that time, they were undeniably mislead by ranking members of The Lincoln administration, a fact my opponent has choosen to remain silent on. I have also shown a policy on the Part of The United States (which Con agrees existed) to refuse acknowledgement of the Confederate government thus forcing a war on any terms other than total surrender of The Confederacy. I have shown how Fort Sumter was not a logistically or militarily defendable position w/out the consent of South Carolina and as such, it had nothing more than nominal value (which has been addressed) to the US government. I have shown how the very land itself was given under the strict requirement that it's use always be of benefit to the state of South Carolina, again, my opponent failed to address this point. To close this discussion I will reiterate that all three of my historical references agree the only real reason Lincoln attempted to forcibly resupply that base was to maneuver Davis into firing the first shot of the war. In closing I ask again, was this really a noble cause?
Thanks for the debate Con!
To begin my closing statement, I will first go over my opponent's primary points and their main flaws; I will then enter into my own arguments, explaining why the South had no right to secede from the Union and their subsequent, unwarranted attack on the Union was their own fault, not the fault of the Union.
My opponent has based his argument in favor of the South and its subsequent attacks on several main points. First, my opponent asserts that the South was failed in four key 'promises' and thus could secede. He argues that Congress banning slave transportation into free states or territories was illegal, that mob rule in Kansas and Missouri territories violated the peace, that slave insurrections had been attempted and, in some cases, aided by Northern abolitionists, and that the basis of southern economic prosperity was being threatened, without regard for reparation payments. He then argues that the Constitution does not mention secession (a fact I find agreeable), but that they intended it to be protected in the 9th and 10th amendments. Finally, he argues that the South was justified in attacking a Union fort, Fort Sumter, comparing it to France attacking a US base in France.
I have explained several key flaws with these arguments. First off, states and territories were under no obligation to support slavery. Under the 10th amendment, states have the right to decide what types of property should be legal in their state. Although territories have no such right, Congress did and had created a system where some territories would support slavery, and others wouldn't. To say any of them were obligated Constitutionally to support it does not make sense. Similarly, the second and third arguments have little, if anything, to do with government. My opponent admits such mobs came from both sides. How can this be the fault of the North if both sides have caused it? Northern abolitionists helping start slave rebellions is also not a government issue. The final one - that slave labor was the backbone of the South and that no reparations were offered - has been thoroughly rebutted. I have noted that the vast majority of Southerners did not own slaves and that reparations were considered - even during the war! Lincoln himself wanted to pay the loyal slaveholders in the border states, and it can be assumed other members of his 'moderate Republican' group likely did the same prior to it.
His position on Fort Sumter is also fatally flawed - he assumes the Confederacy was entitled to steal every Union instillation in the region, despite the fact that the Union paid for and owned them. He justifies the attack on it by absurdly comparing it to France attacking a US fort in France (which would be entirely different because France has never been part of the US, and probably still illegal anyway), and basically said "the North didn't need it and had no use for it, so the South had every right to take it". This is a poor argument - a poor man could not go into the house of a rich man and steal his stuff, even though the rich man could probably do without it. Why? Because it is not his stuff. Similarly, the North refused to cede control of it; the South expressed very ill will and revealed their true intentions by attacking it, even though the North had done nothing to warrant it.
Now, with that out of the way, I will explain my argument and how it is far better:
As I have explained earlier in this article, I believe 100% the right to secede exists. I reject the idea this idea exists in the government - it is a right of the people. At the same time, this right has limitations. In the Declaration of Independence - the fundamental American document on secession - Thomas Jefferson explained that "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security".
This view expresses a great deal of wisdom on the topic of secession - Jefferson noted secession is indeed a right, but also explained that this right is only to be applied when utter tyranny has been onset or is about to be onset. In fact, if you look at the Declaration itself, the sheer number of injustices listed far exceed the ones Pro listed in favor of Southern secession. In fact, every single one of them listed in the Declaration of Independence is to a degree far higher than any of Pro's arguments. Thus, it is undeniable that tyranny had not been onset in the South. Pursuant to the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence - the document which reveals the basic thought process our Founding Fathers had on the topic - Southern secession was unwarranted and illegal, because there was no justification for it.
I also noted earlier precedent on the matter - early documents such as the Articles of Confederation outright banned it, while the federal government actually stepped in to stop rebellions liked the Whiskey Rebellion. Unlike in Britain, where no representation was awarded to the states, the Southern states had fair representation in Congress, meaning that the South had votes on key issues. While such representation was lacking, because it did not include women and blacks, the fact of the matter is the South was in an increasingly shrinking minority on the topic of slavery - recognizing this, the South threatened to secede if Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 election. In other words, they attempted to blackmail the North into submitting to their desires. When Lincoln won (due in part to the sheer stupidity of the Democratic Party and the presence of a major third party), they began to secede, with states like South Carolina noting in their secession documents that slavery - and the increasing disdain for it in the North - was the fundamental reason for secession.
In the creation of the Confederate Constitution, the South basically copied most of the US Constitution - reiteration the fact the war was caused not by a lack of Constitutional protection, but due to the North becoming increasingly hostile to the practice. When the South attacked Fort Sumter - an act of war by any definition of the word - the North rightly responded in kind.
To sum up: the South was not under tyranny, nor about to be under tyranny, and thus had no right to secede. Their actions prior to and after the war demonstrate the ill will the South carried towards the US, and their unwarranted attack on Fort Sumter was illegal. Thus, the South's illegal secession and illegal attack on Fort Sumter means the Civil War was justified.
I would like to thank my opponent for an excellent debate. This was a lot of fun to work on, and a very challenging debate to boot - I hope the civility this debate had can serve as a model for future debates on this topic.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: see comments, excellent debate by both sides.
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